Objectives: To compare the validity of diagnosis of urinary tract infection (UTI) through urine culture between samples processed in routine health service laboratories and those processed in a research laboratory.
Population and Methods: We conducted a prospective diagnostic cohort study in 4808 acutely ill children aged <5 years attending UK primary health care. UTI, defined as pure/predominant growth ≥105 CFU/mL of a uropathogen (the reference standard), was diagnosed at routine health service laboratories and a central research laboratory by culture of urine samples. We calculated areas under the receiver-operator curve (AUC) for UTI predicted by pre-specified symptoms, signs and dipstick test results (the “index test”), separately according to whether samples were obtained by clean catch or nappy (diaper) pads.
Results: 251 (5.2%) and 88 (1.8%) children were classified as UTI positive by health service and research laboratories respectively. Agreement between laboratories was moderate (kappa=0.36; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.29, 0.43), and better for clean catch (0.54; 0.45, 0.63) than nappy pad samples (0.20; 0.12, 0.28). In clean catch samples, the AUC was lower for health service laboratories (AUC=0.75; 95% CI 0.69, 0.80) than the research laboratory (0.86; 0.79, 0.92). Values of AUC were lower in nappy pad samples (0.65 [0.61, 0.70] and 0.79 [0.70, 0.88] for health service and research laboratory positivity, respectively) than clean catch samples.
Conclusions: The agreement of microbiological diagnosis of UTI comparing routine health service laboratories with a research laboratory was moderate for clean catch samples and poor for nappy pad samples and reliability is lower for nappy pad than for clean catch samples. Positive results from the research laboratory appear more likely to reflect real UTIs than those from routine health service laboratories, many of which (particularly from nappy pad samples) could be due to contamination. Health service laboratories should consider adopting procedures used in the research laboratory for paediatric urine samples. Primary care clinicians should try to obtain clean catch samples, even in very young children.
- Microbial Culture
- Primary care
- Urinary Tract Infection